This past Saturday (November 12), I was invited to speak at a Men's Prayer Breakfast at the La Sierra Baptist Church in Riverside. Our men were asked to come and join with their men for a good time of food, fellowship and worship. It was indeed a very enjoyable way to start the day.
Then, that afternoon was the graduation ceremony for the Ontario campus of University of Phoenix, where our son-in-law (Shawn) has worked very hard the last two years to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. Shawn walked the stage at the Citizens Bank Arena, where the graduation was held. With the loss of his job and the arrival of a new baby, this was a testimony to his (and Crystal's) dedication to his educational pursuit. We are all so proud of him. His parents (Terry and Linda Marcum) flew out from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to be here for this very special weekend. When Shawn walked the stage on Saturday afternoon, we were ecstatic to see the end of a long journey to this point in his life.
Afterwards, we went for a little celebration dinner at the Buca di Beppo Restaurant in Upland. It is a quaint but lively Italian place that has wonderful food. Our table was filled with salads, pizza, lasagna and fettucini. Our son, Jason, was in the Inland Empire area on business for his job with the Potawatomi tribe. Because of that, Evan went out to Palm Springs (about an hour away), picked him up and brought him to join us in our celebration time that night. We had quite a feast with family and loved ones! (Jason spent Saturday night and Sunday night at Crystal's, so he was with us through Monday morning.)
Sunday was an exceptional day for me and Sondra, because the Baby Dedication for little Brynnlee was part of our morning worship service. All our kids were here (Jason, Evan and Crystal), as well as Shawn's parents. My morning message focused on how we honor God as we raise our children. Children are a gift from above, and we show our love for the Lord in all we do with our offspring. At the end of the service, I had Shawn and Crystal come forward with Brynnlee and presented them to the church for blessing. Little Bailey was a part of this, you can be sure! I also asked Shawn's parents (Terry and Linda Marcum) to come and stand with them. In addition, I asked Sondra and Jason and Evan to come forward to stand in solidarity and dedication in this unique time of presentation. After a few brief words, I held Brynnlee in my arms for a prayer of dedication and blessing. It was indeed a special moment for all of us.
Following the worship time, we drove over to the Ontario Mills mall. Crystal had planned a very special surprise luncheon for Shawn. She contacted his work friends, her work friends, other friends from over the years as well as family members. She stressed that this was to be a surprise party. She worked it out perfectly. She and Shawn arrived at the Market Broiler restaurant and was greeted by nearly 45 people who were gathered in a side room set aside for this celebration. He could not believe his eyes and was so happy to see so many friends and loved ones!
Monday morning, Sondra and I got up early to spend a little more time with Jason. He was to be at the Ontario Airport by 10 am, so Evan went with us as we took Jason to breakfast. We got to chat and catch up on some more news from his household (Shelly and the kids - Jace, Kylee and Macyn). Then we took him to the airport and saw him off.
Last night (Monday), some friends from our San Diego days were in town (actually in Fontana) to get some work done on their motorhome. Ed and Linda Comer were members of First Southern Baptist Church of San Diego when I pastored there in the early 1990s. I did the weddings for their children and we have kept in touch ever since we moved away. When they retired a few years ago, they sold their house and bought a motorhome coach. They now travel around the U.S. helping with projects at various ministry camps and churches. In the last two and a half years, they have worked nearly 24 projects. Each project is about three weeks long in duration. They bless others with their volunteer efforts, and they relate how blessed they are by those they serve. Our time for dinner at the Black Angus restaurant was filled with story after story of what God is doing! We caught up on their family news as well, and we shared what God has been doing lately in our lives also. We had a great evening with great friends!
And, yes, I made sure they got a copy of my book Don't Say You Can't.....ha!